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Ohannes

Holistic Community Therapies in Nottingham with Tiger Boe

1 November 16 words: Bridie Squires

Winter is coming. Aside from smouldering Jon Snows, we’ve got all the joys of shorter days and biting cold to look forward to. Honestly, the whole ordeal can get us a bit down in the dumps, and maybe it does you, too. But fear not. Holistic community therapy institute Tiger Boe has some alternative treatments at hand to help combat all kinds of health issues, both physical and mental. Get your SAD light out for a reading session as we unearth the story of the clinic...

image: Raphael Achache

In the western world, the words ‘holistic’ and ‘alternative’, when associated with medicine, have got some right negative connotations – expensive, unproven, hippy stuff, to name a few. Bit leary. Misconceptions are rife, but Chu Kat Martindale, founder of Tiger Boe and former Fabric nightclub employee, is looking to deliver this type of healthcare without breaking banks, and educate the Nottingham community about self-care at the same time. That includes the use of specific techniques in breathing, nutrition, exercise, and posture.

As a third-generation-Chinese practitioner, Kat uses a traditional eastern model. “In the east, it’s a part of everyday life – like going to the hairdressers or buying a paper,” says Kat. “People will go and get a massage, get acupuncture, and we’re taught to be very aware of our bodies.” The practice of traditional Chinese medicine has been built on for over 2,500 years, but its effectiveness is still a hotly debated topic.

“A lot of people think we’re esoteric – that it’s moons and stars and rainbows. It isn’t. Acupuncture is on the NHS now – they accept it as evidence-based,” says Kat. “There are a lot of misconceptions that people aren’t regulated properly, but I’m under the British Acupuncture Council which has very high regulations – we have to do continuous professional development, keeping up our practice much the same as how any nurse or doctor would have to do to be in their registered body.”

Completely new to the holistic health game and somewhat of a sceptic, I went along to receive acupuncture treatment from Kat, not really knowing what to expect, aside from a bit of a prod. “I call them pins – they’re thinner than a piece of hair,” Kat says. “The thickest ones we use are 0.02mm in diameter. When people get blood taken they use a hypodermic needle, about 2mm, so what I’m using is a tenth of that. I think people think you’re gonna come running at them, stab them up and leave them screaming in agony, but it’s nothing like that.”

With several other feet-up acupuncturees in the room, I lay on my back on a massage table, with dim lights and relaxing music playing, feeling quite at ease. As Kat whipped around the different points of my body – between the thumb and forefinger, on the top of my foot between the toes – I felt a strange twinging sensation that seemed to buzz like an electric current up my arms and legs as she dexterously slotted the pins in. The treatment is most commonly used to relieve various types of pain, but there are also claims of its effectiveness on conditions like anxiety, depression, addiction and insomnia, although they are debated.

“Acupuncture is the biggest one we do here,” says Kat. “Most of the stuff we do is just general stress and anxiety really – there are a lot of people who come to us about once a month and we just keep them on a level, take them back down to zero again.”

I tried out a couple of the other therapies on offer at Tiger Boe – meditation and hypnotherapy, plus yoga sessions.

Yoga instructor and Tiger Boe employee Gina Brierley, who studied the ancient practice of yoga in India two years ago, says “The whole point of [yoga] is that you’re breathing into your body as you’re stretching. You’re stretching certain muscles where they say certain emotions reside. After you meditate on those areas, you can release tension from them and it retracts muscles. You massage yourself from the inside out, rather than someone massaging you from the outside in.”

With all things combined, I felt like the floaty hot air balloon I imagined in my meditation session. There’s definitely something to be said for what these particular methods can do for low mood and anxiety, but it’s not just the feels Kat addresses. “I do a lot of bone setting, putting bunions back in – that, I’m very good at. A lot of women like it because they can get in their party shoes again. But I also do more serious stuff, like resetting shoulders when people have had breaks gone wrong and they’ve not been set right.

“We also do a lot of cancer care. A lot of people who come out of chemotherapy and radiotherapy come to us because we can turn off the nausea and vomiting, we can ease the stress, the hot flushes, and help them get back to sleep. What we can do is give the patient a full journey – they get the emergency treatment they need, but we care for them by getting rid of the things in the background. Then they go home and go to sleep rather than spending fourteen hours vomiting – much better for patients in my mind. That’s something I do wish they would stop arguing about, because it’s pretty much agreed by patients.”

Gina can also vouch for Kat’s healing hands. “She’s done a lot of work on me – she’s opened up all of my left sinus which was completely blocked. She did that with really light pressure. It’s actually magic. I can breathe so much better, and I don’t have to go through with an operation anymore.”

Before finding out about Tiger Boe, I had no idea that a lot of these treatments existed. A lack of knowledge combined with a usually hefty price tag means many people simply never experience alternative healthcare for themselves. Kat’s much cheaper community model opens doors for people who’ve tried lots of different medicines and treatments to no avail and who may want to go down a different route.

“When I qualified, nobody I knew could afford to come and see me,” says Kat. “I’d been to university, spent all this money and time, had this skill, and my friends – who had normal wages – couldn’t afford to come and see me. People want to take control of their healthcare, they want to be able to make their own decisions, and they can go on the internet to find their own information. What’s difficult is finding someone in the alternative world who’s going to stick their neck out and say, ‘This works, that doesn’t.’

“A lot of people think it’s a placebo effect and I always say to people ‘Well, if it is, then I’m a genius at it. And if it works, it works’. I’ve had people walk in here on two walking sticks and I’ve had to chase them down the road because they’ve forgotten them. That’s one hell of a placebo effect.”

Kat encourages anyone interested in holistic healthcare, and anyone suffering with a long-term illness, either physical or mental, to pop in to the clinic. It’s there that people can find out how the crew might be able to help, to learn about all the various practices, and to make up their own mind about whether it works.

“We’re not the type who charge £150 to sniff a candle. It’s more like: come in, have a cup of green tea and a chat. We keep it very much on a community basis. We have a real giggle in the clinic – it’s a bit like being at the barbers. Everyone joins in on the conversation, it’s really nice like that.”

Tiger Boe, 7 Clarendon Street, NG1 5HS. 0115 837 8080

Tiger Boe website

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